Herbert Gardner

Interviewed by: Allison Hibbitts
Date of Interview: April 28, 2011
Interview Location: Herbert Gardner's house

Allison Hibbitts reports:

"Herbert Gardner is the person I choose to interview for this project because of where he is my grandfather. I like to listen to him talk about when he was younger so that is why I also choose him to interview. He has been in Wise County his whole life. He grew up on Guest River in a small house, he was not rich but not poor he loved his family very much. After high school he joined the military and afterwards he opened his own business until retirement."

Question: When and where were you born?

Gardner:I was born in Norton, Virginia in my family’s home on August 8th 1933.

Question: Where did you grow up??

Gardner: Guest River… Norton, Virginia.

Question: What was life like when you were growing up?

Gardner: We were very poor during the Depression and for most of World War II. Around the house we had a lot of chores that needed be done, but we were a very close family.

Question: What did you all do for fun as a kid?

Gardner: We played marbles, baseball, and a game called mumbly peg when we had free time.

Question: What were your chores like around the house?

Gardner: During the growing season we had to work hard in the garden. In the morning and evenins’ we had to carry water to the house. In the mornings gather eggs and milk the cows. We also had to trap for our food that we ate.

Question: What were you clothes made out of?

Gardner:Mostly burlap and flour sacks is what they were made out of.

Question: What did your dad do for a living??

Gardner: He worked in the mines and in constructions while pastored a church on the side.

Question: Where did you work at as a kid??

Gardner: I worked at Kroger’s grocery store.

Question: Where did you go to school?

Gardner: Esserville School.

Question: How did you all get to school?

Gardner: We walked 3 miles to and from school.

Question: When was the first time you saw a tv??

Gardner: I was 11 years old in 1944 at a neighbor house. We would sneak up on the porch and look in the window at it.

Question: How did you heat your house?

Gardner: We used a wood and coal stove.

Question: What was the first car that your family owned?

Gardner: I cant recall the type but I do remember it was a Ford.

Question: What was it like going to Esserville School?

Gardner:It was small school. The teachers were very discipline parents didnt have much of an education so the classes were hard.

Question: How long did it take you to get to school?

Gardner: It took roughly about 45 minutes.

Question: When did you go to J.J. Kelly?

Gardner: When I was a senior, the schools had just consolidated.

Question: What school did you graduate from?

Gardner: J.J. Kelly High School.

Question: What was your favorite memory from your childhood?

Gardner: Stayin’ at my grandmother’s house on the weekends and listening to her tell ghost stories about headless men walking through the streets.

Question: Why?

Gardner: Because most of the stories were about people who had their head cut off in the mines and it was stories about them walking through the mines and down the road not far from where we lived. The way she told the stories always had me hooked til the very end.

Question: What did you do after high school?

Gardner: I went into the Army.

Question: What was your first real job?

Gardner: Working with office equipment for Mr. Cooper at Sharps Office Supply.

Question: Were you in the military?

Gardner: Yes I was.

Question: How old were you?

Gardner: I went in at 18 years old.

Question: When did you leave the military?

Gardner: When I was 20 years old.

Question: What helped you get trained for your profession?

Gardner: My GI Bill paid for my training.

Question: What was the extent of your employment through retirement?

Gardner: I opened my own business with my brother which was called Business Machine and Office Supply

Question: What was it like owning your own business?

Gardner: It was very successful business because it was started during the coal boom and the economy flourished. Then as big business swallowed up the little guys it became hard and stressful.

Question: What are things that you enjoy doing during retirement?

Gardner: I like to travel, fish, and work in the yard.

Question: Have you always lived in Wise?

Gardner: Yes I have.

Question: What is your favorite thing about living in the Appalachian region?

Gardner: It's a safe environment to raise a family in. It is old fashion and laid back.

Question: Why?

Gardner: Because it what I’ve have been around my whole life.